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Full text of "My Country And My People"

WOMAN'S LIFE                     141

coarseness than from the disqualification to vote. When men
are naturally reasonable and good-tempered and considerate,
women do not suffer. Besides, women have always the weapon
of sex, which they can use to great advantage. It is nature's
guarantee for their equality. Somehow every man, from
emperor to butcher, baker and candlestick-maker, has scolded
his wife and been scolded by her, because nature has ordained
that man and woman should meet in their intimacies as equals.
Certain fundamental relations, like that between husband and
wife, differ much less in the different countries than one would
imagine from travellers' descriptions. Westerners are apt to
imagine Chinese wives as mute slaves of their husbands,
although actually Chinese husbands, on the average, are
fairly reasonable and considerate beings; while Chinese are
apt to think that, because the Westerners have never heard of
Confucius, therefore Western wives don't look after their
husbands' laundry and stomachs, but simply go to the beach
inpyjama suits or live in a continuous round of dancing-parties.
The unique and the exotic make such interesting after-dinner
stories, while the central and common truths of humanity are
forgotten.

In real life, then, women have not really been oppressed by
men. Many men who marry concubines and make cats' nests
of their homes and dodge from one woman's chamber to another
are the real sufferers. There is, moreover, that curious sexual
attraction which makes it impossible for relatives of any
degree, of different sex, to dislike each other strongly. Women,
therefore, are not oppressed by their husbands or by their
fathers-in-law, nor can sisters-in-law oppress one another,
since they are of equal rank, although they never like each
other. The only remaining possibility is that daughters-in-law
may be oppressed by the mothers-in-law and this is often what
actually happens. The life of the daughter-in-law in a big
Chinese family with its manifold responsibilities is often a very-
hard one. For it must be remembered that a marriage in
China is not an individual affair but a family affair; a man
does not marry a wife but "marries a daughter-in-law," as
the idiomatic expression goes, and when a son is born, the
idiomatic expression is "a grandson has been born." A